Hari's Corner

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Drawing a human hand - my technique

Filed under: Tutorials and HOWTOs by Hari
Posted on Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 17:24 IST (last updated: Wed, May 9, 2012 @ 11:41 IST)

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I've seen quite a few hand drawing tutorials on the www, but I've found that the best way to draw a human hand is to observe your own hand and draw from reference. It's incredibly hard to get the shapes and proportions right without an actual reference. Luckily, though, there's no need for any special reference - you have your own to work with.

The whole process was completed using MyPaint, a very useful paint program which has a variety of brushes and meant to be used with a pressure-sensitive Wacom tablet. MyPaint is really simple to use, provided you have a working Wacom or other tablet pen, so I refer you to its own website for reference. However, one hint is to use layers liberally and hide/show layers as necessary.

So, without further ado, here's my humble attempt at drawing a human hand, keeping in mind that I'm not an accomplished artist.

Step 1

Hand - step 1 - pencils

First, I draw the outline of the hand with the pencil tool. Redo as often as you like until you get the proportions right.

Step 2

Hand - step 2 - outline pen

In the second step, simply create a new layer and "ink" the outline. This allows you to get a solid hand shape to work with.

Step 3

Hand - step 3 - details

In the third step, create a new layer. And now comes the hard part - filling in the details and patterns on your palm. Again, I achieved somewhat realistic patterns and lines by direct observation rather than any deep insight.

Step 4

Hand - step 4 - flat colour wash

In this step, again create a new layer (you must have noticed a pattern by now :p). Use the deevad/water1 brush in the brush menu and fill in the hand with a flat brownish colour. With a real water colour set, I would probably have struggled at this stage, but digital makes it easy to correct mistakes or even start afresh without wasting paper or paint.

Step 5

Hand - step 5 - finishing and shading

Finally create yet another new layer and add the highlights and shading as necessary to create a solid looking hand. I used the same water colour brush as in the previous step and simply "painted over" the flat colour.

Last but not the least, hide the initial pencil outline layer and export as PNG and you've got a realistic looking human hand.

Here's one more drawn with the same technique.

Hand with pointing finger

Note: I don't expect this to be really useful as a tutorial; this is more like a documentation of my own study of a human hand. I have seen plenty of other good tutorials online for drawing various parts of the human anatomy, but my own feeling is that each artist has their own "go-to" technique in a crunch. I believe that drawing from observation is probably the easiest way to do it as it involves very little guesswork and you also gain useful "hand-training" in the process.

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